In sixth grade, my Catholic mother decided to spice up the Christmas season with an Advent wreath. For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s a tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas, with an additional candle lit each Sunday of the season.
And yes, I did just pull that explanation from Wikipedia.
Admittedly, I was most intrigued by the color of the candles. Three were purple and one was pink, and that just seemed especially fun to me. To add to the excitement, my Mom decided to let me light one of the candles on the second week. I didn’t have much experience using matches, but I was up for the challenge.
And then things took an unfortunate turn.
Instead of holding the lit match horizontally, I held it firmly upright. As the flame began to quickly travel down the match and dangerously close to my fingers, I panicked and dropped it on the table. The table cloth briefly caught fire, family members screamed and several expletives were uttered.
That was the first and last year we bought a wreath.
With such horrors ingrained in my memory, I know fire safety is serious business. Advent may be over, but grill season is just around the corner.
Following is a preventive maintenance schedule/checklist for communities that allow grilling, according to NAAEI National Maintenance and Safety Instructor Paul Rhodes.
1. At least daily, open up the grill and verify that it is not lit or hot if not in use.
2. Periodically clean the inside of the grill. Charcoal grills require this more often than gas grills do.
3. Depending on usage, completely clean the grates, baskets or racks. In many cases, this can be performed in a vacant apartment by running the items for a cycle in the dishwasher with detergent, using the heavy-duty pots and pans setting. Don’t forget to remove any large stuck-on food before placing it in the dishwasher.
4. If using a gas grill, consider replacing the briquettes or lava rock with generic heat plates. This will reduce the possibility of flare ups and ease cleaning efforts.
5. Don’t forget the area around the grill. Ensure that the area under the grill is flame safe and that all landscaping doesn’t blow into the fire area.
6. Keep an eye on signage, trash can liners and supplies for the “pet potty” station to ensure good curb appeal.
Hazardous materials, such as Advent wreaths, should be reported immediately.
For more, check out Maintenance Insider in the April issue of units Magazine.
Lauren Boston is NAA’s Staff Writer and Manager of Public Relations. Unsurprisingly, she writes a lot—most often for units Magazine and as a weekly blogger for APTly Spoken. She enjoys making people laugh, sharing embarrassing childhood stories and being the (self-proclaimed) Voice of the Apartment Industry. She welcomes feedback, unless it’s negative (in which case, please keep it to yourself).